And so it begins! Today, we hear about the calling of Andrew, Peter, James and John to follow Jesus. “Come after me”, Jesus says to them – and they do – immediately. For the next three years, Jesus connects to these men, connecting to their hearts and creating in them a passion. He teaches them through his words and his deeds. He turns them into leaders and people who change the world. It didn’t make sense for them to do that. This man they had never met says come after me. They leave their fishing businesses, their families, everything they had known and they follow him. They were not the sort of people who anyone would suspect of being religious. They were common, everyday people, fishermen. They were not the sort of people anyone would suspect could convince others to change their lives. They were ordinary everyday people. They were not the sort of people that anyone would suspect could take the position of leadership in the conversion of the world. They were common, everyday people. But they were called. They responded. And God worked his wonders through them.
Jesus fulfills the words of the prophet Isaiah as he comes to lead us from the darkness of sin and death into the light of salvation. He emerges from the desert and begins to turn on the lights: he preaches and invites people back to God. Anguish has taken wing. The darkness is dispelled. And the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. And Jesus preaches to us, and teaches us and tells us the reason for our joy, “The Kingdom of God is at hand.” He offers to us our redemption and our salvation!
Jesus showed us the way – he is our light – his actions are our model. For he calls to each and every one of us, just as he called to Andrew, Peter, James and John. He comes into our lives and invites us to turn towards him and follow the light he provides for each of us – through the Word we hear, and his living body and blood we receive through the Eucharist. He calls to us to have a passion for Him and for God. Our ‘calling’ does not belong to us, but to Jesus Christ. Each of us is called to a unity of purpose – a purpose of loving Christ and reflecting his light out to others! Through prayer and discernment we come to know the will of God. Through humility, we submit to that will and seek to set our own agendas aside. His will calls us to charity for one another, forgiveness of each other and mercy and compassion, particularly toward the most vulnerable among us. We, everyday ordinary people are called by Christ to change the world. Our hope, our joy, our peace are all in Jesus Christ. Our rest is in the Lord. He is our light, and we are His light out to the world. We have been called by Christ to enlighten the world. The question is, “How have we responded to that singular most important call in our lives? Does our faith shine through us? Does it form and shape what we do and who we are?”
As Vincentians, we bring that light, that love and mercy and compassion to those we encounter through our ministry – both to the poor and one another. We should have a zeal to seek God’s will above our own. He invites us – as everyday ordinary people – to change the world one person at a time. For we belong to Christ! “The Lord is our light and our salvation!” How do we live out the calling Christ extends to us to care for and nurture the poor and vulnerable? Do I see SVdP as a calling to a way of life?
Lord Jesus, help me to seek out your will above my own, that I may be united in spirit and thought to the broader Vincentian family. Allow me to enter into prayer and reflection, that I may allow your Spirit to enter deeply into my very essence guiding my thoughts, my words and my actions. Through humility, give me a spirit of cooperation, a spirit of forgiveness, and a spirit of mercy and compassion. May I continually come to reflect your will with greater frequency each and every day. We pray all of this in your name. Amen